The state of Ohio is aiming to speed up the process of matching patients with behavioral needs to inpatient psychiatric facilities with beds available through an online platform.
The state’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is rolling out a new online psychiatric bed registry, dubbed Behavioral Health Connection or B-Con, which was developed to give clinicians a real-time view of where there are bed openings. The service runs on Appriss Health’s OpenBeds platform that is already being put to work in eight other states.
The tool is expected to be used in emergency departments, as well as by psychiatrists and other providers. Users are able to access the platform for two-way communication, data aggregation, analytics and decision-support resources.
WHY IT MATTERS
Today there is a shortage of beds in psychiatric facilities across the country. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, the number of state hospital beds in the U.S. has fallen by 97% from years 1955 to 2016. The organization reports that in 2014 individuals with serious mental illnesses were 10 times more likely to be in prison or jail than in a state-run hospital.
However, the number of emergency room visits for mental health-related issues remains high. The CDC estimates that there are roughly 4.8 million emergency room visits due to mental disorders, or for behavioral and neurodevelopmental reasons.
“All too often, individuals experiencing a psychiatric crisis have long delays in obtaining appropriate services. These delays result in serious consequences, including long waits at home, in emergency departments, or in jails until necessary services become available. Reducing these delays is a top priority for the Department,” Dr. Justin Trevino, OhioMHAS Medical Director, said in a statement.
“We believe this registry will improve patient care, ease overcrowding in emergency rooms, and expedite the process of connecting patients with psychiatric hospitals and hospital psychiatric units.”
THE LARGER TREND
The World Health Organization said that the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted mental health services in 93% of all countries, and goes on to note that the demand is growing during the pandemic. Digital mental health programs are becoming plentiful, and becoming a way that innovators are pitching to solve for this issue. However, the bulk of the products focus on giving patients care at-home.
Talkspace is one of the big companies in online therapy. In 2017 it closed a $31 million financing round. This isn’t the only well-funded mental health company. Cerebral closed a $35 million Series A round in October. Additionally, over the summer, consumer wellness and telehealth company Hims announced that it would be adding a new mental health service ahead of going public.
ON THRE RECORD
“During my time as a practicing emergency medicine physician I witnessed patients waiting hours, or even days, to access inpatient mental healthcare services, which is happening across the nation and simply unacceptable,” Dr. Nishi Rawat, senior vice president of Appriss Health and cofounder of OpenBeds, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that this new program will help Ohioans access mental healthcare resources faster, when they need it most.”